Social Networking websites such as FaceBook, YouTube, Bebo and MySpace offer people the chance to catch up with friends and make new contacts all around the world 24/7, but they are also vulnerable to identity fraudsters as they encourage their members to share large amounts of personal information about themselves in what is essentially a public space, where literally anyone could get hold of it and misuse it.
Identity fraudsters can use the most basic information about their victims such as name, address and telephone numbers for a whole range of unlawful activities, and social sites provide even more opportunities for them as many people divulge intimate details about themselves and their identities. Common problems associated with social networking sites include impersonation fraud, which involves thieves stealing enough personal information that they can actually impersonate their victims for a range of unlawful reasons, such as to access their financial accounts and steal money, and also set up new credit accounts in their name.
How to stay Safe on Social Sites
Social networking can be fun and rewarding, allowing you to stay in touch with all of your friends, but you should think very carefully about the information you are publishing online and never post anything that could be used by fraudsters such as your full name and address, date of birth, telephone number or details about your finances or employment. You should also take some time to learn about the security and privacy features on the social site you are using, and set them to levels you feel comfortable with. Most sites allow you to restrict the amount of people who can view your page, so you should be very careful about who you invite in as a 'friend'. Remember that typical security questions asked by banks to verify the identity of their customers includes information such as your first school or the place you met your spouse, so don't publish your complete life history online as fraudsters are very clever at spotting this sort of detail and could use it to gain access to your financial accounts.